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Are You Willing?

Accepting what's tough and doing what matters.

Throughout our lives, we have a mix of experiences, thoughts and feelings. Some of these may be neutral, day-to-day experiences without strong emotions hooked to them. Others may be pleasant and joyful, or unpleasant, uncomfortable and difficult.

In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, acceptance is the active choice to allow unpleasant experiences, thoughts and feelings to exist without trying to deny or change them. When we are faced with difficult situations, thoughts or feelings, we want to change them, we don't like them, and our minds go into either problem-solving mode or avoidance mode. For example, we may try to think our way out of it and analyze the situation or distract ourselves by binge-watching Netflix or scanning social media for hours on end. Now, both of these strategies can work in the short term, but they often don't work in the long term. For example, when we try to solve a problem that we have no control over, we end up ruminating about the problem and not finding a solution. When we distract ourselves, the problem and difficult feelings are still there waiting for us when we are done. In both situations, we are not moving towards what actually matters to us. Instead, we focus on those problematic things (because they are screaming for our attention) rather than intentionally focusing on what is most import